An artist who set himself the task of capturing consciousness on the hoof, making tangible the fleeting quail of phenomenal experience, Tarkovsky made things hard for himself and harder still for all directors who would follow in his footsteps. Man, he set the bar high. Even Bergman, one of the true greats, acknowledges that he is without peer.
A review of Mick: A life of Randolph Stow by Suzanne Falkiner
This first full biography by Suzanne Falkiner of Julian Randolph Stow, known by those close to him as Mick, is thorough and engaging. I first encountered his novels at university twenty-five years ago, and was drawn to the mysterious Visitants, the subject of our study at the time, and later read The suburbs of hell, but it wasn’t until I first heard that this biography was being published that I read two more of his novels to remind myself of his depth and style.
A review of Prince: Purple Reign by Mick Wall
After reading this book, Prince remains enigmatic, and perhaps that’s part of the tribute. This is a man whose legacy was his music, an oeuvre that not only provided a platform that many of today’s most respected musicians have built their careers on, but one that continues to develop the more you listen to it. There’s so much more to listen to than simply the big hits, though those hits are far more complex than the instant pop accessibility of it would suggest.
A review of Hitler: Volume I: Ascent 1889-1939 by Volker Ullrich
This nuanced, well researched and often reflective biography follows closely upon the heels of Peter Longerich’s books about Himmler and Goebbels and a new scholarly edition of Mein Kampf. Apparently, there is renewed interest in what the Nazis did and thought, and this is perhaps because our world, as Timothy Snyder notes in Black Earth, is becoming more like theirs.
A review of Apostate Englishman by Albert Braz
Archie Belaney “went native”, in an era when “the cowboys always won.” In the early 20th century, American First Nations people were still regarded as savages with a lust for killing wild animals. On one occasion, in an upscale Toronto hotel while on a lecture tour, Grey Owl was taunted for being Indian. He harmed no one with his deception. Did writing about his own experiences in the forest with animals constitute cultural appropriation? Braz says no.
A review of Mr Copacabana: An American History by Night by Jim Proser
Monte lived the American Dream and its Nightmare. He frequently had it all and just as frequently had nothing – often, it seems, at the same time. He opened the Copacabana nightclub in New York City in 1940 and for thirty years it remained the centre of the show business world: if a performer could succeed at the Copa, their career was made (and for those on the skids, frequently remade).
A review of Words Without Music by Philip Glass
There is so much to learn here, not just about Glass, but about ourselves—how to live, how to learn, how to create. Towards the end of the book, Glass talks about his work on his Cocteau Trilogy in which he says, of Cocteau, that he “is teaching about creativity in terms of the power of the artist, which we now understand to be the power of transformation” (378) The same can be said of Words Without Music.
A review of Margarita Wednesdays by Deborah Rodriguez
I find Rodriguez’ breezy, blunt writing style to be very readable. She is an excellent weaver of a tale, readers will find their interest whetted via the uninhibited panache of Rodriguez’ writing. I like when someone, writer or not, can see their mistakes, can laugh at themselves and not resort to mawkish or maudlin behavior or writing in order to gain empathy or sympathy for their plight.
Mainstream Maverick: The Biography and Work of Robert Redford, incl. All Is Lost (& Selected Books)
Appearance or truth? Both? Form and spirit. There has been a tension in our appreciation for Robert Redford, a dedicated actor and filmmaker who also happens to be an image of masculine beauty. Redford, as a young man of impulse and integrity, and not a little rebellion, was interested in adventurous exploration, whether involving art, travel, or relationships. Everything considered, he was a lot less selfish and shallow than most of us would be. That may be part of why he has become such an intriguing and respectable elder statesman.